Money and God

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Faithful Stewardship  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:19
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Recently I purchased a printer--and I was eager to get it set up. It came with a very thick users manual--very intimidating. However, it also came with a quick-start guide.
If one described the Bible as the operating manual for living, it is Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 that serves as our quick-start guide.
The mission of Jesus was not just to save us through His death and resurrection--He came to teach about Kingdom living--about how a person should live life that pleases and honors God.
He addressed attitudes, relationships, purpose, prayer--and many other important aspects of following God faithfully.
One of the subjects Jesus addressed in this Sermon on the Mount was money.
Because, Jesus knew how important money is to the life of each one of us--how money permeates through almost every part of living.
Money and possessions often become so important that it influences many of our decisions.
Money and things--or the lack thereof places so much pressure on our lives, that if we are not careful, it has an adverse affect on our marriages, family relationships, our own wellbeing--and even our relationship with God.
So it makes perfect sense that Jesus would address this subject head-on.
In the course of the next three weeks, we are going to identify and learn about the biblical principles of faithful stewardship--to apply them in such a way that will positively impact our relationship with God, with our families, and with our community of faith (the church).
CONGREGATION: Matthew 6:19-21,24
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Matthew 6:19–21 ESV
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:24 ESV
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Jesus pinpoints a serious potential problem that can disastrously affect our relationship with God--and what needs to be done to safeguard your heart.
We cannot afford to ignore, dismiss, water-down, or reject what Jesus says and teaches. The implications are significant.
And, it begins with a choice! And, what is the choice Jesus is wanting us to make?

Value Obedience to God in all Areas of Our Lives.

Jesus identifies a choice every person must make. Two options! Two ways of living! Two objects of worship! Two different kinds of treasure.
There is the treasure on earth.
In the ancient world (and even in many parts of our world today), wealth consisted of precious metals and cloth.
Owners of these "treasures" were constantly worrying about loss due to decay or theft.
However, it was natural, as it is today, to focus on getting as much as you can--that somehow this would provide the security one needed to survive life.
For the religious leaders of Jesus' day, there was the belief that wealth and possessing much was an indicator of God's favor and blessings. This justified selfishness, pride, and a lack of compassion.
There is the treasure in heaven.
This kind of treasure includes everything that believers can take with them beyond the grave.
So, what can we take with us? Holiness of character, souls won for Christ, compassion, material resources used for the Kingdom, and maturing faith.
This kind of treasure has eternity in view.
What should we do--and more importantly, what should we become that will prepare us for eternity?
Jesus presents to all humanity a choice--a choice to make. Do we focus on the here and now, or do we focus on eternity?
If we focus on eternity--it affects the here and now!
If we choose to value obedience to God in all areas of our life--we will soon discover that our choice exchanges selfishness for compassion, worry for assurance, and fear for courageous faith.
We become a happier person--a confident person--a faithful person!
So whether you have a lot of stuff, or just trying to get by--choose what will have a lasting benefit to your life.
The Apostle Paul put it this way:
1 Timothy 6:17–19 ESV
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
So, how do we cultivate desire and action to obey God in everything?
Here is what Jesus said:
Matthew 6:21 ESV
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
So how do we keep our heart focused on God?

Maintain Loyalty and Affection to God and His Redemptive Plan

Throughout Scripture, the heart refers to the center of one's being, involving emotions, reason, and will.
Jesus alerts us to a fundamental observation: a person's affections are inherently drawn to his or her treasure.
If our treasure is heavenward--our values and passions center on glorifying and honoring God--if our desire is to keep eternity in view--where salvation and worshipping God is our priority--then naturally we will display unwavering loyalty to God and what He wants us to do.
And, what does God want us to do? If we are loyal to God--and He is the center of our affections--then we are going to strive with our whole hear to align fully with is plan. So, what is His plan:
Matthew 28:19–20 ESV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
If we do not possess a passion for the things God is passionate about (like the lost), then we must conclude that something is wrong--and our loyalty and affections for God are deficient.
So, how do we protect ourselves from deficient loyalty and affection?

Guard Against Mixed Loyalty.

Look at what Jesus said in verse 24 (of Matthew chapter 6):
Matthew 6:24 ESV
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Jesus gives only two options: you must choose between competing loyalties. God or money.
Now, this word that Jesus uses for money is not just referring to the change in your pocket or the balance in your bank account. It refers to all of a person's material resources.
Of course, many people do try to cherish both God and possessions, but ultimately only one will be chosen. The other will be "hated," even if only by neglect. "Love" and "hate" in Jewish thought are often roughly equivalent to choose and not choose.
The great danger in affluent cultures, such as ours, is the all-pervasive materialism.
Jesus is crystal clear--unless we are willing to serve him wholeheartedly in every area of life, but particularly with our material resources, we cannot claim to be serving him at all.
This is tragically illustrated in Matthew 19.
Matthew 19:16–22 ESV
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
The commandment that this rich young man ignored was: "Have no other God's before me." His possessions were is god. His possessions were more important than the invitation given by Jesus. And, his choice brought great sadness.
To how can we avoid mixed loyalties?
Jesus said in verse 33 (Matthew 6)
Matthew 6:33 ESV
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Seek First the Kingdom of God

One of the side affects to divided, conflicted, mixed loyalties is fear and worry.
We are prone to worrying about everything--about the future, about our possessions, about our bank account balances, about our health, about our relationships, about politics--just about everything.
But, this should not be the attribute of a believer.
In fact, according to Jesus, worry is a result of a lack of genuine belief in God's goodness and mercy. Scholar and theologian Matthew Mounce suggests that "worry is practical atheism and [is] an affront to God.
Anxiety characterized pagan religions, which were dominated by fears of despotic deities who constantly had to be appeased.
In its modern, irreligious garb, pagan anxiety displays a great preoccupation with trying everything to make one feel better: the latest diet, the latest exercise craze, the latest motivational book, the latest whatever.
But, Jesus identifies the secret to overcoming a life filled with fear and anxiety: When priorities in heaven and on earth are right, God will provide for fundamental human needs. And, getting our priorities right means to seek first God--and that means to obey all that Jesus commands.
When we seek God first, we remove the conflict--we settle to serve God and His purpose--viewing money are material resources as opportunities to seek God first. This will change everything in your life.
So, who or what are you going to serve? Money, things, worry, or God?
Worship Team to enter platform and begin instrumental (Jesus, the Center)
In ancient Israel, their long-time, larger-than-life leader, Moses had died. Joshua, the second in command now was called to lead his people into the Promised Land. His natural inclination was to worry. But this is what God said to him:
Joshua 1:9 ESV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua faced significant challenges and obstacles as he honored God's command. Toward the end of his life--a life that required faith and courage, he made this "line-in-the-sand" admonishment:
Joshua 24:15 ESV
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
There was no conflicted loyalties with Joshua. God and God alone would be the object of his affection and worship--and so it should be with us.
Altar call
Money and things seem to occupy our time and energy. So many live in worry and fear. So many are motivated by the wrong things. Today can be the day in which you settle this conflict--and serve God alone.
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